Book Tour: The Prism Effect by J. Wint – Genre: YA Fantasy/ Sci-Fi @superbo1970 @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

To celebrate the release of the second instalment in The Skylight Series by author J. Wint, we’re going back to where the adventure began with The Prism Effect! Read on for more details!

The Prism Effect MIDJOURNEY EBOOK

The Prism Affect (The Skylight Series #1)

Publication Date: September 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Sci-Fi

LIFE has never been easy for young Jet Stroud.

He is affected by a rare condition known as ephebus mortem, also called the youthful death, and legend says it will kill him before his twenty-fourth birthday. To make matters worse, the legend also claims that its victims become delusional as they grow older.

However, things take a turn for the better when he is unexpectedly accepted into the renowned Skylight University–an orbiting system in the Earth’s atmosphere. At first, he doubts the legend and begins the semester hoping to learn more about his strange disease. As the school year unfolds, he meets a group of students like him and they band together. Soon, strange things start to happen–mysterious shadows follow them, bizarre holographic prophecies appear that only they can see, and haunting voices cloud Jet’s thoughts. He begins to struggle on the blaze pitch and with his studies. The small group of students threaten to splinter apart as the semester races to a close and Jet wonders if he will survive. In the end, he uncovers something about himself so profound that it will change his life forever.

Excerpt

“Jet?” she asked. “Everything okay?”

He didn’t respond, still gazing in the direction of the fountain. She snapped her fingers in front of his face to gain his attention.

He blinked and looked at her. “Sylvant, over there next to the fountain… do you see it?”

It was the heat mirage again. It shifted around the base of the fountain, blurry and transparent. But it was too cool for a heat mirage, though it looked exactly like the ones he’d seen on hot and humid days.

She glanced in the fountain’s direction while pulling him out of the street. She shook her head. “No, I don’t see anything. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Jet looked at her defensively. “I’m fine, thanks.” He walked towards the fountain with the mirage in his sight. Sylvant followed, the heels of her shoes clicking across the vacant intersection. Jet stepped up to the fountain’s basin for a look around, but the mirage was gone.

“I swear… it was here,” he said.

“What was here? What are you talking about?” she asked.

“There was a… a shape, or something like a mirage here, just now.”

Sylvant cleared her throat. “Why don’t we go inside. We need to talk about this.” She flashed her sister’s journal in front of his face.

Jet hesitated. He wanted to understand what he’d just seen as much as he wanted to hear about the journal.

The shape suddenly reemerged near one of the alleyways, steam momentarily cloaking it. Then, the sunlight dimmed and turned everything a shade of rust.

“There. It’s there!” he hissed at her. “You can’t see that?”

She peered toward the alleyway. “Jet. You’re starting to worry me.”

“You don’t believe me, do you?”

“Jet, I’m trying to understand, but I don’t know what to say.”

“I’m going after it,” Jet said. “I want to prove to you—”

“Whatever it is, let it go!” Sylvant looked down the dark alley and back at him. “We can talk about it inside the café, alright? My first concern is your safety.”

Jet could see the uneasiness in her expression. “Sylvant, I’m asking for your help, not your protection.”

It was growing darker, and an unsettling stillness seemed to descend around them. Sylvant recovered her composure. “As a professor to a student, it’s my responsibility to look after you. You need to come with me.”

Jet watched the mirage move down the alleyway and vanish into the steam. “I can take care of myself. I’ll call you later, Sylvant. I promise.” He sprinted down the alleyway, leaving her behind.

Plumes of steam gushed from the buildings lining the alley and hid the fleeing mirage. The sunlight was nearly gone, making it difficult to see. Jet had to stop a few times to see where he was.

The chase came to an abrupt halt when the alley ended at a brick wall. The mirage was gone. Jet backtracked, looking for signs of it. He noticed a ladder on one building and climbed up three stories and onto the rooftop. He skirted the parapet and stopped to regain his bearings.

The sunlight flickered and dimmed, like someone sliding a gossamer drape in front of it. Jet looked at his watch, surprised to see there should still be half an hour of daylight left. What happened next made the hair on his arms stand up. One of the system’s outer belts crossed slowly in front of the sun, casting a long shadow over the cityscape beyond. The eclipse’s shadow inched eerily across each building, engulfing the city in darkness. Jet had read an article about the event, something called a skylight eclipse.

His skin grew cold as the eclipse overtook him. From the rooftop, he watched the leading edge of it creep doggedly across the pitted field and towards the dimly lit factory in the distance. Fleeing just ahead of the eclipse was the shimmering mirage.

Jet leapt over the building’s parapet and onto an adjacent rooftop. He scrambled across a metal bridge spanning the alleyway and sprinted across the field.

He entered the abandoned factory minutes later and slowed to a halt, kneeling against a storage tank to catch his breath. He could hear equipment running in the distance, which seemed odd since the factory appeared to be vacant. A rust-colored smog from old chemicals still lingered in the air. Rogue weeds grew up through cracked concrete, and above him, a maze of catwalks and pipes cast a kaleidoscope of patterns onto the pavement.

He crept further into the factory, searching for the mirage. The ground below his feet quivered, and the sound of equipment grew louder. Tremors accompanied a dull scraping noise that sounded like metal grinding on metal. Something big moved below the surface. He placed his hand on a storage tank and felt it vibrating rapidly.

Jet followed the thrumming for several minutes before stumbling upon a vast clearing. Rusted sheet metal walls rose up to create a circular pit. Sand and dirt covered the ground, and tumbleweeds piled along one end like skeletal remains. In the center stood an oddly shaped contraption that resembled the smokestack of a ship. Its bow pointed skyward like a steel chimney with steam spewing from it.

An uneasy feeling settled over him as he hid in the shadows. He was in the middle of nowhere and chasing a mirage. It was getting late, and the eclipse had him on edge.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Wint graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He is a licensed architect and LEED accredited professional who believes in a strong, sustainable community. As a student of architecture, he developed a love for design and continues to push for creative solutions.

As a child of the 70’s, he developed a love for cheesy science fiction movies, and later became an avid fantasy reader. His youthful influences—combined with his college experiences and background as an architect—have propelled his work as a writer to create the Skylight Series.

J Wint | Twitter | Facebook

Book Tour Schedule

September 19th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf

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 September 20th

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

September 21st

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

Sadie’s Spotlight (Spotlight) http://sadiesspotlight.com/

September 22nd

@margiebythebookcase (Review) https://www.instagram.com/margiebythebookcase/

Book Reviews by Taylor (Review) https://www.bookreviewsbytaylor.com/

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

September 23rd

@wolfesbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wolfesbooks

@booklymatters (Review) https://www.instagram.com/booklymatters/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

 

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Book Tour: What Lies West of the River by Rachel Leigh – Genre: YA Suspense @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #YoungAdultBooks #Thriller

Welcome to the book tour for the spine-chilling new novel by Rachel Leigh! Read on for more!

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What Lies West of the River

Publication Date: June 17th, 2022

Genre: YA Suspense

In the wake of a local teenage boy’s mysterious death, the town of Guillane, Connecticut, has been plunged into chaos. A dark, malignant force is rising within the murky waters of the East River, an ancient presence so evil it threatens to devour the very soul of the small town in its wake. Thrown together by circumstance, it is up to an unlikely group—a girl haunted by tragedy, her seemingly perfect older brother, Guillane high’s resident know-it-all, and a weary English teacher—to battle its forces and rid Guillane of its terrible influence. Together, they must struggle to overcome their own fears, come to terms with grief, and understand the nightmarish entity that threatens them at every turn. Their love for one another and their will to survive is powerful, but will it be enough to battle the darkness that is closing in from all sides? The water is rising, and it might just drown the whole world.

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Excerpt

The moon hung low over Guilford on Wednesday night, three days after the funeral of Miles Sullivan. It hung so low, that the top of the church steeple seemed to pierce it as it rose up into the sky. By two o’clock in the morning, most of the frosted windows in the little houses were dark, and the town grew still. Candles were blown out, doors had been locked, and chimneys were barren.

If someone had been standing in the middle of Great Hill Road, and had been asked to describe what they heard that night, they would likely have named the following sounds: the whisper of the wind, the occasional snapping of twigs, and the faint chirping of crickets. However, a very different series of sounds could be heard beneath, but only if one was quiet enough and focused enough to pick them out.

The boy held the freshly lit cigarette up to his mouth and took a drag. He let the smoke escape his lips and watched it with satisfaction. He leaned his skinny body against the railing of the back porch and thought about his hatred of his father, something he often thought about. If he had been slightly smarter and slightly more self-aware, he might have realized that he didn’t truly enjoy smoking, and only did so out of spite for his father, who he knew wouldn’t approve. He did a lot of things out of spite.

The boy’s name was Ryan Gardener. He didn’t have the capacity to analyze himself, and so he was usually as puzzled by his own actions as anyone else was. He seemed to simply roll through his days, collecting up into himself more spite and resentment as he went. At 18 years of age, the only thing he really aspired to was making everyone he disliked admire him. He pictured himself ten years in the future, wealthy and successful, waltzing back through the doors of Guilford High for his class reunion. He could almost see the aged and jealous faces of his classmates. He could practically hear his father’s pathetic voice, begging him for money or support, and Ryan practically shuddered with delight at the thought of what the old man’s face would look like when he was denied. He didn’t care very much to think about how he would obtain such wealth and success, considering he didn’t have any talents or interests whatsoever. Nonetheless, his dream was more real to him than anything else in his life.

He lowered the cigarette from his mouth and turned it over in his slender fingers, studying it. Briefly, only briefly, he wondered if he was a good person, though he didn’t really care what the answer was. He turned his attention back to the darkened yard before him.

If he hadn’t already been looking out in the direction of the woods behind his house as he smoked, he might not have caught the first sign. Straining his eyes, he thought he could pick out two specks of light coming from the darkness between the trees. At first, he thought they might be the headlights of a car, though he wondered how it would be possible to drive through the dense woods. It was only when they grew in size that he realized that they were not lights from something far away, but rather something quite close. They were eyes—big, yellow, and inhuman. They shone from in between the trees that made up the borderline of the woods, and they were advancing.

It was precisely when the terrible realization of being watched by something unknown sunk in, that he noticed the second sign. Music. It started quietly, as if the shrill cry of the violin grew out of the whistle of the wind itself like a mutation. The music floated through the air and wove its way into his mind, and it was because of it that Ryan Gardener found himself frozen. Yes, he was sure he couldn’t move one bit. His own eyes were glued to the advancing pair of yellow eyes, and he desperately wanted to race back through the door he had emerged from and lock it. But he couldn’t.

Two sensations rose in him quite quickly. The first was fear, of course, when he became aware that he could not escape whatever was drawing nearer to him. The other was an inexplicable feeling of calm, which quickly smothered the fear and replaced it entirely.

And there he stood, a cigarette in hand, staring into the approaching eyes of fate.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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 Rachel Leigh was born and raised in California. She cultivated her love of writing at an early age, and began working on her first novel What Lies West of the River as a high school student. She is currently living in New York, and attending New York University as a part of the Tisch School of Acting. She has been a lover of stories all her life. Visit her on Instagram at @rachelgleigh.

Rachel Leigh

 

Book Tour Schedule

September 5th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

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September 6th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

September 7th

@allpagesandcoffee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/allpagesandcoffee/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

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September 8th

@amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Review) https://latishaslowkeylife.com

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September 9th

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Book Tour: Rune and Flash by Joe Canzano – Genre: YA Scifi/ Action-Adventure @happyjoecanzano @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BookTour

Welcome to the book tour for Rune and Flash: Inside the Dream Prison. On this tour you will find reviews exclusively at each stop, so follow along and find out what readers are saying!

RuneandFlash-cover

Rune and Flash: Inside the Dream Prison

Publication Date: May 14th, 2022

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/ Action/ Adventure (In the vein of Hunger Games and Divergent)

When 16-year-old Markla Flash is convicted of murder and sentenced to 1,000 nightmares inside the Dream Prison, her friend Rune vows to help—but he quickly finds himself pitted against his parents, and the police, and a gang of murdering “subversives,” as well as the keepers of a society where artificially created dreams are used for both punishment and pleasure.

“Rune and Flash” is an action-filled science fiction adventure about the power of truth, technology, and love.

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Excerpt

Markla didn’t care for the dark. Why did they need to be creeping around in the woods at night? The trees all looked like gnarled monsters, and the moon stared down like an evil eye, and couldn’t they attack this place in the daytime?

The Serenity Six Dream Station would still be around when the sun came up. It would still be around on a weekend, too—in case someone didn’t want to save the world on a school night. But she was the only one still in school, and being just sixteen years old no one seemed to care what she thought, anyway.

Dru was two years older and he was up ahead. He was stomping through the forest, snapping twigs and swishing his feet through every pile of dry leaves. If the darkness gave them a certain element of surprise, it was totally lost by all the noise they were making. They were supposed to be warriors in a primitive and ancient tradition, schooled in the art of silent attack—but now the idea made Markla roll her eyes. We’re as clueless as the enemy, she thought. Any second now someone was bound to walk into a tree and knock himself unconscious.

The thought almost made her laugh, but she bit her lip instead and stepped lightly over a thick root. She was tiny, and slender like a branch, and she wouldn’t be walking into anything. Then Dru held up his hand and whispered in a fierce tone.

“Stop!” he said.

Markla didn’t stop right away. Instead, she tossed back her hair and crept to his side. Markla’s hair was a shade or two darker than midnight, and it was always tangled and messy, and most of the time she liked it to hang down because it covered a small scar near her left ear and another star-shaped one on the right side of her forehead. But tonight it seemed appropriate to let her scars show.

They were standing at the edge of the dense forest. Somewhere nearby, an owl hooted and her heart leaped. She brushed a mosquito from her bare arm and peered across a grassy clearing. Did she really want to do this? Well, she did have a steel club slung across her back, and so did Dru, and so did the other three people who’d come trudging through the woods on this humid autumn evening. They were staring across the field at a knob-like building that resembled an observatory. There was no kind of visible fence around the place, but it was supposedly equipped with sensors that would detect anyone who crossed a certain perimeter—unless the system was disabled by someone inside.

Dru wiped some sweat from his forehead. He motioned for everyone to crouch down, and in the darkness three silent figures followed his instructions. But Markla remained standing, and so did he, and he turned to face her like she knew he would. Even in the moonlight, she could see his blue eyes, thick dark hair, and chiseled facial features—and yeah, he looked good. But just because Dru was sexy didn’t mean he couldn’t be infuriating, especially when he said, “Maybe you should wait here.”

“What?” She felt her stomach tighten. “What are you talking about? You want to leave me behind?”

Dru smiled. “Markla, no—that’s not how it is. I know you’re tough, but you’re also small, and we could use a lookout.”

“That’s stupid,” she sputtered. “That was never the plan. I’m part of the group, and now you want to leave me here all alone?”

“No one wants to do that. It’s not like that at all.”

“If you leave me here by myself, I’ll be alone, right? I can count to one.”

Dru sighed in dramatic fashion. Behind Markla, the three others remained silent, like they were waiting for the argument to end. And it did end, the way it always ended. Dru reached out with his big hands and squeezed Markla’s shoulders as he looked into her eyes and said, “I would never leave you behind, Markla. You know that.”

She was quiet. “Okay,” she finally said. Then she shrugged. “So what are we talking about? Let’s go.”

He laughed. “We can’t go yet, honey. We have to wait for the signal.”

Right. She knew that, and she hadn’t meant it literally. Then there was a chirping sound, and Dru was staring at a wafer-sized device in his hand.

“Okay, this is it!” he said. “Are we ready to do some damage?”

Everyone murmured that they were—and then they put on their masks.

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About the Author

Joe Canzano_800x600color

Joe Canzano is a writer and musician from NJ, U.S.A. His stories have appeared in a variety of printed literary journals, as well as in the Akashic Books online series, “Mondays are Murder.” He has also published five novels. His website is happyjoe.net.

Happy Joe | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

Book Tour Schedule

August 8th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

August 9th

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

August 10th

@brandidanielledavis (Review) https://www.instagram.com/brandidanielledavis/

@margiebythebookcase (Review) https://www.instagram.com/margiebythebookcase/

August 11th

Haddie’s Haven (Review) https://haddieshaven.blogspot.com

@definitelynotreading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/definitelynotreading/

@thrillersandcoffee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/thrillersandcoffee/

August 12th

Cheryl’s Book Nook (Review) https://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

 

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Review Opportunity: The Stars Forgot Us by R.J. Garcia – Genre: YA Paranormal @rj_dreamer @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BookRelease

Available for Review!

The Stars Forgot Us by R.J. Garcia is available for review. Unlike an event, there is no set date however, we ask that you have your review posted to both Amazon and Goodreads by September 18th at the latest. E-books are available now!

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The Stars Forgot Us

Publication Date: March 30th, 2022

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing

Fifteen-year-old Jacob Kelly would love to go back to simpler times. Before his parents’ divorce and the onset of his older brother’s schizophrenia. But when he returns to his hometown, things feel off. After a series of strange occurrences in his new house, Jacob fears the house is haunted, or even worse, he is losing his mind.

To his surprise, Jacob discovers a mysterious teenage runaway, Sanctuary Daniels, living in the house. She reveals she has been kept by a figure known only as Mother, in a place where downstairs children are languishing prisoners, and upstairs children do Mother’s bidding.

Both Jacob’s investigation into Sanctuary’s allegations and their budding romance are cut short when she is reclaimed by evil beings. Beings who unleash terror upon Jacob and his family. Now he must journey to a real haunted house to save his first love and fight for his life.

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Excerpt

My eyes snapped open as three words surfaced in my sleepy brain. You’re not alone. A cold settled into my flesh, making the fine hairs on my arm stand up. I sat up in bed, sucking in a deep breath, and stared into the darkness, unsure what had woken me. My lights were off. It was pitch black. Then the distinct pitter-patter of footsteps sounded down the hall.     

“Mom?” When I got no answer, I jumped out of bed and scrambled for the light switch. The overhead fluorescent light blinked on, and I immediately noticed the closet door was partway opened again. This time, I was sure I’d closed it, so I started off with slow, measured steps to investigate. I yanked the door open the rest of the way and hit the closet light. I scoured the walls to discover more writing. The single word, HELP, was written in the same marker on the wall. My pulse skyrocketed. It freaked me out. 

I crept back over to the bed and grabbed the blanket, swinging it around my shoulders like a cape, settling down on the drafty hardwood floor. With a shiver of anticipation, I kept my eyes pinned to the door, and strained to hear the slightest noise. It was eerily quiet. Even the wind had died down.     

Unexpectedly, I heard a girl’s voice, so soft it was hardly audible, as it drifted up from the floor. It was only the word, “I’m.”       

I scooted over to the vent and whispered, “Um…hello?” There was no reply. It could have been a ringing or humming in my ear. Yeah, I’d only imagined it was a voice. Yet, I hadn’t imagined the writing on the wall. I mean, what the hell? I got up and decided to have a look around. If someone was in the house, I had to know. I exited my room and began my search.       

I stood face to face with a long and quiet hallway—doors on the left and right. My mind was a hot blank space as a thread of fear tugged me along. My mom’s bedroom was kitty-corner to my room, so I stepped in just far enough to take in the visual of her tucked in bed. Her sleeping sounds were somewhere between wheezes and moans.

“Mom?” I whispered, but she didn’t wake up, and I decided to just let her sleep.

I crossed over to the spare bedroom, smacking on the lights. There was only a desk and Mom’s old computer in the corner. Determined, I was now on a serious hunt and rushed to the closet, flinging the door open. There wasn’t anything. Not even writing on the wall.     

Next on the list was Michael’s room. I found him sitting up in bed with a vacant stare. The lights were off, but the blinds were open. Moonlight flitted in, creating shadowy outlines above the chest of drawers that appeared incompatible and menacing.

My gaze returned to my brother as I cleared my throat. “Were you just walking around?”

“No.”

“Did you hear a girl’s voice, Mike?”     

He came to life. “Yeah. I heard her.”     

My mouth dropped. “Holy shit, I hoped I imagined it.”     

Michael stared at me with an unsettling intensity. “I heard her in the vents, the drainpipes, and in the walls. If you listen closely enough, you’ll hear them all.”     

Oh great, I’m losing it too.      

My brother nodded approvingly. Tension slid from his features, softening his mouth and jaw muscles. Misery loves company, I guess.     

About the Author

Balck and white author pic

R.J. Garcia is a wife, and proud mom of two smart teens and a chorkie, Zoey She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has been writing short stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!

RJ Garcia | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

 

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Book Tour & Giveaway: The Man Who Came and Went by Joe Stillman – Genre: Mature YA/ Magical Realism @dwilk @simonschuster @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #YABooks

Welcome to the book tour for The Man Who Came and Went by Joe Stillman! Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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The Man Who Came and Went

Publication Date: March 1st, 2022

Genre: Mature YA/ Literary Fiction/ Magical Realism

Publisher: City Point Press

Distribution: Simon & Schuster

The Man Who Came and Went, a novel of the new west, is a magically realistic story for the modern era that will tease your understanding and beliefs, and draw you into the mysteries of the universe, from the brilliant mind of Joe Stillman, acclaimed Academy Award nominated co-writer of “Shrek.” 

Fifteen-year-old Belutha Mariah, our storyteller, is the oldest of three kids from three different fathers. Her life’s goal is to keep her dysfunctional mom, Maybell, from procreating yet again and then to leave the coffin-sized town of Hadley, Arizona the second she graduates high school.

Along comes the new grill cook at Maybell’s Diner, Bill Bill, a mysterious drifter with the ability to mind-read orders. As word spreads in Hadley and beyond, the curious and desperate pour into this small desert town to eat at Maybell’s.

Some believe Bill knows the secrets of the universe.

Belutha figures he’s probably nuts. But his cooking starts to transform the lives of locals and visitors, and Belutha finds her angry heart opening, as Bill begins to show her the porous boundary between this life and what comes after.

In a normal American town, something new and strange, and yet achingly familiar, begins to unfold.

Joe Stillman has brought us an ensemble of empathetic characters, all in the elusive search for happiness in this witty and poignant exploration of love, expectation, and mortality. I laughed, I cried, I loved it.

–  D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author

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Excerpt

The door opened with a DING from the bell that hung on it. No one noticed Bill entering. He was about average in height, but his skinny frame made him look taller. You could tell from his face that he was in his mid-20s, but those were hard years he had lived, and his body looked frail and geriatric. His clothes were old and clung to him like an extra layer of skin, with a smell that would never wash out.

The angles of his face were sharp and careworn. But his eyes, those were different. His face was hard and weathered, but his eyes were soft. They seemed brand new.

No one in the diner even looked. If they did they would have seen those eyes taking in every little detail: the people talking, forks carrying food, the string lights behind the counter, Dolene ringing up a check. But what drew Bill more than anything else was the grill. Harley, the grill cook, must have had four meals going at once, each with its own set of sounds and smells. Most of those meals involved eggs. His spatula made a metal-on-metal scrape as he turned them. Bill was riveted. He went to sit at the counter to watch.

Down the counter, a porkish-looking man named Earle—probably one of three men in town who had never slept with my mom—raised his empty cup. “Can I get a refill, Maybell?

Maybell stopped and faced him. “Seriously, Earle? Is it so goddam much trouble for you to get up off your ass and get it yourself? Can’t you see I’m working here?”

“Well…” he stammered. “I just—was I—I was—”

Maybell pointed to the coffee pot. “How far away is that? Two feet?”

“Sure, I guess…”

“Am I your personal slave, Earle? Is that why God put me on earth?”

“No, I don’t think you’re—”

Maybell grabbed the pot and sloshed coffee in his Earle’s cup. “There. You happy now?”

He nodded meekly.

While she had the pot in her hand, Maybell filled the cup sitting in front of Bill. “I’ll be by to take your order in a minute, hon.”

Maybell walked on. Bill just sat there and stared at the coffee. For him, there was no diner anymore, no Maybell, no clanking dishes or dumb conversation. He leaned closer to that cup like it was the only thing in the world. And there he was, smelling coffee for the first time. And it smelled like life. Like a whole world. Like this is how a planet smells if you’re up in space and could take a deep breath. Bill was motionless for who knows how long. And then, when he was good and ready, he took his first sip.

Those eyes, the ones that didn’t belong on his head, they closed as if he was praying. No, more like he was hearing a prayer. The coffee was praying to be heard, and Bill heard it.

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About the Author

Joe Shot 4 _

Joe Stillman co-wrote “Shrek” for Dreamworks which earned him an Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Annie and BAFTA Awards.

Other produced features are “Beavis & Butthead Do America”, “Shrek 2”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, “Planet 51” and “Joseph King Of Dreams”.

In television, he was co-producer and writer on “King of the Hill,” for which he received two Emmy Award® nominations. He was a writer and story editor for Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” and a writer on MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead”. More recently he worked on Nickelodeon’s “Sanjay And Craig” and “Kirby Buckets” for Disney. Other TV credits include “Albert” for Nickelodeon, “The War Next Door” for the USA Network, “Clueless”, “Doug” and “Danger And Eggs” for Amazon.

Joe is currently working on a “Curious George” feature for streaming on Peacock.

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